|Helping New Zealanders connect to each other|
Setting up your Open Future New Zealand Membership
Open Future New Zealand is an approved network on LinkedIn which is the largest business network on the Internet.
You start this process by going to the Open Future New Zealand Network.
Adjusting your "Settings"
Open the tab called "Settings"
Save the changes.
Choose to be involved.
We want Open Future New Zealand to be a safe place to get advice and to do business. Sadly, most people who join groups like LinkedIn, do very little or nothing once they have joined. If you just sit there, you'll sit, and sit, and sit. You have to make the first move. See this example of ALL the LinkedIn members in Christchurch a couple of years ago. Most of those people with one connection probably still have one connection. Don't let that happen to you.
The Open Future New Zealand Newsletter will help to keep you informed and every month there will be a small tip to help you along.
If you want help there are many places where you can ask, including asking John S Veitch here.
The Benefits of Joining Open Future New Zealand
New Zealand does not have a well developed culture of networking. I can only think that the small size of the NZ market is the cause of that. Some of our top private schools have always encouraged networking, but the basis of that effort was to build only through close and well developed personal networks. New Zealand Universities have been slow to learn the lesson of keeping alumini connected and informed.
There are three immediate benefits.
As a Open Future New Zealand member you can invite your own NZ contacts to be members. This is a helpful service you are doing for them. Lots of people must be doing that because every day 5-6 more people want to join.
There is a real need to connect to people who have small numbers of LinkedIn connections, and to people who live in small towns and in occupations that are not top of the mind regarding internet use. DIVERSITY is the key to making the Open Future New Zealand network more useful to all of us. You can help, by making your own personal network more diverse.
There is a good deal of practical and helpful advice in the topics below for you.
If you are an open networker, you can register with us, and that will increase the number of invitations you get.
Building Your Network's Size and Diversity
90% or more of all the people who join online social networks get very little back. They DO nothing. Please don't fall into that trap. If you follow these instructions you can do much better. If you are not coachable, I can't help you. Over on Ryze I run a network for Social Networking Newbies. If you need a lot of help, go there too.
Here is a suggested network development programme
Understand the purpose of online networks - Why?
The theory is simple. Your future opportunity is very closely connected to your ability to learn and to keep on learning. The most meaningful way to learn new things, is to learn from other people. Yes you can learn from books, and yes, you can ask Google questions, but the best way to increase your knowledge is to link to other people who are like yourself, and to share knowledge with them. Many people are strangely reluctant to do that. Frightened of the unknown?
Of course the incentive to join a group of people you don't yet know is weak. Don't let that stop you. Extend your network outreach to include a few hundred people, you don't really "know". Along the way, some of those people will strike you as being particularly interesting. Maybe you'll exchange letters about matters of shared concern. Perhaps you'll see new ways to think about your own work. Three or four of these people might indeed become "friends". To make that possible first you have to throw your net. Who's out there?
Imagine a large and useful future network
Think about the community in which you live. Of all those people you have maybe less than 4-6 close friends, perhaps 30 friends, maybe 200 people you know by name, a 1000 or so you recognise as "locals" and all the rest who are still members of your community but who are not really connected to you at all.
When you go shopping, attend a function, or join a club, you are helped all the time by people you don't know by name, by people who are not really connected to you at all, except in the weakest of ways. It's the same online. You need to directly connect to people who you don't "know". Most of the people who will help you will not be your friends, and often not even known to you until the time that they offer to help.
Imagine therefore, a large network of people, several thousand, who might be useful to you at some future time. Your job is to build pathways that enable the possible connection. You must work to build the network before you can choose to use it.
Build your network steadily
It takes time to build a large useful network. You start slowly and in the beginning you need to do most of the work. Once you are better established other people begin to approach you and the task gets easier. In a group like Open Future New Zealand, it's quite easy to invite other group members to be directly connected to you. Your shared network is in most cases a good enough reason. It's in the mutual interest of all members to expand the number of connections you have. But linking only to Open Future New Zealand members is taking an approach that is too narrow. That's why we recommend the following approach.
Build in three different directions
Use the advanced search on LinkedIn to find people who live in your own city. Link to them. If they have made email addresses visible, that's so much easier. Which raises a point: Have you made your own email address available? Something like "gordon AT xtra DOT co.nz" will do.
Use the advanced search to find people in your own profession, or in related professions. Professional people are always keen to extend their connections to others in their field. That's probably all the introduction you need. Direct contacts are fine, but if you are uncertain ask to be introduced.
Finally connect to diverse and random people. The people who describe themselves as "Lions" or "Top-LinkedIn" will give you the best results, especially when your own network is small. There must be several hundred people with over 5000 connections. Most of the people with more than 500 connections are quite open to adding more. Just ask politely.
Develop a plan to use your network
When you build links with local people and professional people, please make the effort to involve the people with 1, 2 or 3 connections. It's unrewarding work but that does add to the quality of the network. Offer to help those who know less that you do.
The greatest reward for effort is in connection to people who are "Open Networkers" ("Lions" or "Top-LinkedIn").
Once your network has some depth, start to use LinkedIn Answers. Start by answering some questions. When you see how that works, ask some questions of your own. Are you starting to see how you can find people who might be useful to you now?
Find ways to profit from collaboration with others
LinkedIn isn't very good a group work. But it's a great search engine for finding people who might join that group you are forming.
Combine asking related questions with forming a group of interested people on any topic you choose. It's quick and easy to do, and often produces excellent results.
Social Etiquette: "I Don't Know You", and Open Networkers
The "I don't know you" hangup
Millions of people are "STUCK" on LinkedIn because they are afraid to grow their networks. If you choose only to connect to people you ALREADY KNOW, it's IMPOSSIBLE to build your real network. So you have to be more open than that. This is the advantage of joining email lists and discussion networks like Ryze or Xing, or using tools like Twitter and Friendfeed. You can watch in the background, completely anonymous, and when you feel ready you can invite people you now "know" into your network.
As your experience grows so will your confidence. When I read a profile, I believe I can immediately tell a beginner from an expert. I almost never refuse an invitation from a beginner. My role as I see it is to encourage people, to be an example, to provide a model for others to emulate.
I never refuse invitations from experienced people either.
It's up to you to choose who you want in your network. You may have a special reason to be present, but mostly invisible. If you are the CEO of a large company, or very senior public servant, you may want to keep your own network very compact. On the other hand you might encourage your PA, to have a very large network.
It's absolutely normal practice on LinkedIn to invite people you've never met from some far-off land to join your network. LinkedIn worry about this; they worry that people will be annoyed by excessive requests. They include an option in each invitation to click an "I Don't Know" tab. Black marks are awarded to people who accumulate too many "I don't know" debits. They may be banned for issuing any invites for a time.
On the other hand, it's now considered bad practice to "I Don't Know" anyone. The alternative is just to archive the message.
When I started like many people I was very careful who I invited to join my network. I didn't have many connections so nobody ever invited me.
Once I had a couple of hundred connections, I decided that checking people out, was taking too much time. I was beginning to get invitations by now. Besides the LION's group was starting up, promoting the ideal of Open Networking, and I decided to join.
Open Networkers, are people who take upon themselves the burden of maintaining contact with a large number of people. Generally Open Networkers are happy to accept a connection to all those who ask. Many Open Networkers cannot ask you to join their networks because they have already exceeded the "lifetime Limit" of invitations that LinkedIn has set.
Open Networkers are not obliged to accept your invitation, they retain the right to refuse invitations, but they seldom do. Generally, if you invite an Open Networker to join your network in a polite way, they will happily accept your invitation. Most Open Networkers have a reason for building a super-large network. It's not a burden everyone wants to carry.
You can see who the open networkers in Open Future New Zealand are here.
The Open Future New Zealand Monthly Newsletter
The Open Future New Zealand Newsletter is designed to be short and useful.
The LinkedIn Hint: There's always something new in LinkedIn or some general misunderstanding that people seem to have that can be commented on. This small hint should prompt you to keep your own LinkedIn Profile up to date.
The Common: The common is the whole of the Internet and the New Zealand social environment. It's where we all live. I usually worry for a week before the newsletter is published, trying to find something interesting and useful to say. I look for topical things that are being discussed on the networks I'm part of.
Get Engaged: Here I encourage people to be active in some online process that connects people with each other, or to a cause of some sort.
Invite: I always encourage people to invite someone else to participate. In Open Future New Zealand, on LinkedIn, or in some other social networks, whatever seems appropriate at the time.
Volunteer: The Internet was built by volunteers, and all innovation, and most things of real community value, were started by volunteers. It's in your power as a volunteer, that you can make a real difference, at home, at work, in the community, and on the Internet. I'm often volunteering myself, and I'm always looking for people who have the energy to do that.
Democracy: Sometimes I use the term "democracy" instead of volunteer. I'm thinking much the same thing, about how we can together make the Internet better, and how we can together make NZ better.
Please trust me in my role as The Network Ambassador for Open Future New Zealand, to make the messages both few and useful. If you want me to change the way the newsletter is written and presented, please contact me here.
You can post the message yourself in the discussions part of the Open Future New Zealand site at LinkedIn. Start a Discussion Here.
Dealing with Email Overload
Community email, is more like a modern substitute for the newspaper. The mail might interest and concern you, but it's not personal mail. If you read it or not, it's not going to cause any major problem.
I've been associated with the local forum, "Canterbury Issues", and there's about 30 letters a month. Some people complain that's too many. NONE of the email sent to Canterbury Issues is personal. NONE of it has to be read, today, or any day. If the topic is interesting and you have time, then you read it. If you can't, you don't.
Use a Secondary Email Address
We recommend using a secondary email address for all your community mail. Gmail is the most popular service. Gmail has a very easy to use system for creating "labels" for incoming mail. All the mail for each of your social networks can be collected in separate folders. Read it if you can and if you are interested. Ignore it if you choose.
I've got mail for about 10 different groups going to my gmail account. There are 80+ letters a day from Ryze, about 25 from LinkedIn, and maybe 100 more. I perhaps read 30 of these a day. Most of the LinkedIn ones are very easy to deal with.
Often with threaded messages in a group mail system the best way to deal with the mail in a time saving way is to read the whole thread 3-4 days after it started. Then you can decide if you want to contribute or not.
My Primary Email Address
This is the address I use for mail that is, or might concern me personally. I do have some mail for email lists, coming to my personal address. I probably should shift it to Gmail, but I'm lazy. The point is that I have control. If I'm busy only the personal mail gets read. If I have time I browse through the subject lines and pick our what I like. I also skim the sender list, to make sure I haven't missed something I should read.
People don't generally send me personal mail unless I write personal mail. If I am writing personal letters to people, the replies to those get priority.
Does this system ever fail? Only when I fail. Even if that happens, all my mail is still available, still searchable, and can still be dealt with.
Which Social Networks should you Join?
The key position of LinkedIn
For business purposes, LinkedIn with it's 55 million business members is a key network to be part of. The special feature of LinkedIn that makes it useful, is the ability to reach so many people, and the power of the search function. Yes you have to build your connections to use that capability. Of course you could become a paying member, and sidestep that process somewhat. Most of us won't do that.
Email Forums - Lists:
There are thousands of these. A bit out of fashion, but very useful, easy to use and whatever your special topic there are lists that discuss it. Lots of specialist lists are tucked away in universities or are run by NGO"s. Finding them can be a problem. Seldom is permission to join denied.
Twitter is the application of the moment. I think it's over-rated, but it's certainly useful.
Join at least one network that engages in discussions. Read a lot, but also take the chance to write a little yourself. Your writing will improve if you practise.
Facebook is more for college graduates and families, rather than business. On the other hand lots of business related activity, is happening on Facebook. So take a look.
Beyond that, what are your friends doing? Perhaps they have discovered something you should know about. Taste it and see. I'm keen to use Google+ more.
There are hundreds of social networks. You can join many, but eventually you'll choose 2 or 3. I suggest a place like LinkedIn where there are large numbers of people and the ability to search easily. A place where discussions take place, where you can write to reinforce your own thinking, and exchange ideas with others.
Improving Your Learning Rate
The point about online networking is to keep you in touch with what's happening, and to give you the capacity to learn more, to be more innovative, and to be able to access more resources.
We need to take notice of educational research from the University of Canterbury, led by the late Prof. Graham Nuthall. In work extending over several years he demonstrated the what teachers were doing, teacher behaviour, had no direct effect on children's learning. The key to understanding what children were learning was what children were doing. We learn by DOING.
Too many adults assume that we learn by reading. That's only partly true. By reading we feed a tiny part of our brain.
Now I need to briefly explain about the brain. Research into people with brain injury has demonstrated that the brain is organized in a strange way. Colours and shapes are in different areas, written words and spoken words are in different brain areas, listening and reading feed different brain areas, active functions like hand-writing and typing require different brain activity. We don't remember as in replaying a videotape; our memory is entirely a new reconstruction of things the brain assembles, that come from many different places in the brain. The things you can "remember" depend very much on the context you are in at the time.
A Dancing Example
It's also apparently true that all our "memory" may not be in the brain at all. I'm a dancer. Much of what I do as a dancer is in the body, in the muscles, or from the spinal column, automated. If I think very hard I can over-ride what happens anyway. If I have a fault it can be corrected, but it's very hard work that takes weeks, and if you don't keep at it, years.
Dancing has taught me lots of things about how we learn that I never understood when I was trying to be a teacher. In a dancing class you learn the teacher. You learn the room you are in. You learn the people you are with. You learn that a sequence of steps begin in a certain place in the room. You learn the partner you have. You learn steps. You learn hand and body movements. You learn the music. All of these "learnings" seem to be separate things. Changing any of them might mean you can no longer do the dance you've been learning.
Strange and silly things happen. You can dance a new sequence in the studio, but you go home and you can't remember it. You learn a set of steps always starting in the same place. You go to the other end of the room and you can't do it. A change of partner may mean you can't recall the steps. A simple thing like changing a hand movement might result in complete loss of a set of steps you know very well. It's difficult to understand. The way the brain and the body work together is complex. Men, if you've ever wondered why dancing is so hard, perhaps you now begin to understand why.
General Learning Principles for Adults
Like children, we learn by what we do. If you can listen to a speaker, and read the text of the speech, you've processed that information it two different ways. That helps. To learn from it you need to do more. Hand write some notes, make a list of key points, build a mind map, these activities reinforce what you've been focusing on. Type about it, send a message to a news-group, or open a discussion topic on a social network. Speak to someone about the topic on the phone or face to face. Do you give speeches, in your Toastmasters club perhaps, speak to an audience about it. Each NEW WAY of doing something with the information helps you to make it part of yourself.
If you have a blog, recording your own ideas on any topic there, not only gives you a written record, but is also helpful to others.
Because I've kept a journal of over 37 years, I can testify to the great advantage of being able to re-read things you wrote 10 or 20 years ago. That teaches you some powerful lessons about your own memory, or more correctly about the failure of memory. It's also demonstrated to me that the root of much of my present thinking isn't nearly as current as I imagine. I can go back years in my journal and find the first stumbling steps that lead to what I'm doing now. Your thinking has roots, and most people have no way to recall the evidence of that.
Social Networks, Properly Used, Enable Learning
There's not a lot of value in connecting to hundreds of people unless you exchange information with them in some way.
Yes your own time is limited and so is their time. So how can we do this information exchange more efficiently? Twitter and Facebook and Google+ as examples, create a "page" of short messages that often point to a longer message or web page. Ryze, has well developed "networks" where topics are discussed. A message posted to the network can be read by hundreds of people.
A possible learning sequence
You are advised by email, twitter or your Facebook page, of something interesting someone else has found.
You listen to an audio presentation, watch Youtube or read a blog, following up on the information given.
If you think it's worthwhile you might pass this on to a discussion network that you use. What you DO is important, because it's in your own action that makes learning possible. If you post a link, adding your own thoughtful comment engages you in the topic, and helps to engage the people who know you.
If a discussion begins, that helps to reinforce the learning opportunity for everyone taking part.
Do you have a blog where you can write about things like this.
Do you keep a private journal, or a notebook where you can record what interests you?
Printing out the information does make it easier to read, but that isn't enough to help you learn it. You need to do more, to be more active to make learning effective.
Can you talk to someone about it? With Skype, you can talk to someone across the world free of charge.
If the original material discovered is valuable, it's important that you have your own private record of the event. For this purpose, I use my journal. Because of the pressure of time I don't always use it well. My memory, your memory is unreliable. What you wrote in your blog, in a Ryze discussion, in your journal, won't change. These activities give you long term memory devices that you can recall months and years later. That's valuable.
I should add that this work is also available to other people years later if it's in an online blog, or a social network like Facebook.
Writing (Re-writing) Your LinkedIn Profile
You need to develop and redevelop your LinkedIn Profile page many times. As your experience grows you will understand more fully HOW to explain to others who you are, and how to offer to work with other people in a collaborative way. In particular you will rewrite your Summary, and probably the contact information many times in the next couple of years.
Be prepared with a secondary web-mail address. (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for instance.) You need a password of 6 or more characters. You are asked to specify your main activity, or profession. You will add the details of your professional and voluntary work, both present and past. It would be good if you could be prepared to enter three of those in the beginning. E.g. for each one: Your title, the organization, your responsibilities, start-date and end-date.
Be prepared to enter the details of your education, university, qualifications and dates.
Finally think about who you need to contact you, and be precise about what sort of contact you are looking for.
Don't worry. Everything you do can be edited later. The LinkedIn interface is quite easy to use if you have some detail. Thinking about it first helps.
The new user screens make it easy to fill in your LinkedIn profile if you have the information I suggest above.
One of the most important sections of the profile is your Summary. This is a self-written statement about who you are, what interests you, and how you hope to collaborate with others. How you write that statement depends on who you are, at this moment. You will change, your knowledge and skills will change, and your summary will need to be updated. This statement will be read, so take some care in writing it. Decide now what your objective is, are you writing to attract a job offer, or are you a consultant or specialist who is looking for contracts, or are you looking for people to develop new projects with? State clearly what you are looking for.
Finally go to the "My Profile" page. At the top there is a tab called "Contact Settings", click on that. There are some check boxes which you can adjust as you please, and a text box at the bottom. In that text box state exactly what you want and expect in the way of offers, requests, or help you are prepared to offer. Be plain. Also, although LinkedIn recommends that you do not include your email address, I think you should make it available. Use the web-mail address I suggested you needed at the beginning of this article. You might also include links to your business web site, or to your homepage in some other networks.
When you've finished, click on the tab "My Profile" and you will see the editing page for the information you've just entered. Correct it if you need to.
On the top right there is a button which allows you to see the page as other people see it.
Learn from the best Profiles
Look carefully at the profiles of the best known people. Think about how they are branding their own names. John Evans of London, made the point to me four years ago. He is John L Evans, and strongly branded that way. My name is John Veitch, but for three years now I've been using a brand name, John Stephen Veitch, on the Internet.
Most people only ever read the top section of a LinkedIn profile. The links to web pages and blogs are important. The headline under your name is important.. How should you write the overview or summary at the beginning of the page? Read several LinkedIn profile pages, and take notes. What are you learning? Can you apply that to your own page?
Your Open Future New Zealand Group "setup".